Hosting The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
It’s rally time in South Dakota. What started in 1938 as a single motorcycle race in a small town in South Dakota has grown into one of the largest and most well-known motorcycle gatherings in the world. This year is the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and it may be the largest biker gathering of all time. I’ve heard estimates ranging from 800,000 to 1.2 million people.
These motorcycle enthusiasts aren’t just visiting Sturgis. They’re traveling all around the Black Hills – staying in our local hotels and at our campgrounds, eating in our local restaurants, shopping in our local stores and filling up at our gas stations. Each year the rally has a big economic impact on Sturgis and all of the Black Hills, from which South Dakota benefits.
An event this size won’t be without its challenges. That’s why we’ve been preparing for the 75th rally for the last two years. Since 2013, state agencies and local governments have been holding monthly meetings, table top exercises and capabilities briefings.
We’re as ready as we can be for the 75th rally. The state has set up a Rally Operations Center and a Traffic Operations Center. Local law enforcement, the Highway Patrol and ambulance services have additional personnel working. National Guard soldiers specializing in law enforcement and medical response are training in the Black Hills area and are available for call-up in the event of a disaster. Two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters are also on stand-by for medical transport if there is a major emergency.
For the past 74 years, we have not had a major emergency incident at the Sturgis Rally. Our goal is to get through the 75th rally with that record intact, but we need help.
We’re asking South Dakotans to do their part to help make this a safe journey for our visitors. Drive carefully and be particularly mindful of the motorcycles on the road. It only takes one mistake to alter your life and someone else’s forever. If you live in the Black Hills area, plan to get to your destinations ahead of time and be patient with law enforcement and emergency responders. If something doesn’t look right – maybe how someone is taking photos of government buildings or measuring distances between buildings – let law enforcement know. If you see something, say something.
For those who are attending the rally, be careful and be prepared. Wear a helmet and proper riding attire. Most importantly, don’t drink and drive.
Riders can visit SouthDakotaRides.com for real-time information and some helpful tips. On the website there are links to weather updates, fire danger information, Twitter feeds from the departments of Transportation and Public Safety, and a map of hospital, urgent care and police station locations.
One of government’s primary functions is to keep people safe. The state of South Dakota is ready to uphold that responsibility and we welcome the opportunity to host so many visitors in our great state. If South Dakotans and our visitors do their part, it will go a long way in helping make the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a safe and fun event.